Based at Hughenden, Vince Butcher, 63, has been a driver for much of his working life. He hauls cattle and general freight for Corfield Livestock Transport.
He spoke to Big Rigs recently while checking over his Kenworth T650, while stopped on the Townsville Port Access Road.
It was almost noon and the temperature had reached 35°C. “I am actually a fitter by trade and get to travel a fair bit in the job which is great,” Butcher said.
The cattle he transports are mainly from sale yards to meat works.
“We don’t really do much for live export and I get to travel long distances to the NT,” he said.
I asked Butcher to nominate his favourite stop and he was quick to name the Darwin Roadhouse.
“There is plenty of parking, the facilities are clean and the food great. I have just come back from Darwin and the roads are good in the NT,” he said.
Butcher said the Morven Roadhouse on the Warrego Highway was also a good choice when he is in the area.
The Ootan Road in far north Queensland is the worst Butcher gets to travel on – it even has several songs written about it.
“I have to use it when driving to Mount Garnet and Mareeba and it is very rough,” Butcher said.
Surprising to me, this outback Aussie was actually born in the Mother Country, at Hythe which is at county Kent in England. He came to Australia in 1973 and hasn’t regretted it.
“I now have nine grandkids aged five to eight and some live up this way and five are in WA, living in the Bunbury and Perth. We are going to visit them next week and I am looking forward to it,” he said.
The company Butcher works for, Corfield Transport Company, is owned by Barry Christensen. It started in the town of Corfield but now has its headquarters at Hughenden – some 130km away.
“I get out to Corfield to pick up cattle three or four times a year,” Butcher said.
The town has a pub which is open only for special events such as the popular Corfield Races held in August, which generally attract over 1000 people.
Locals call it the “Real Corfield Cup” in reference to Victoria’s Caulfield Cup which is one of Australia’s biggest and richest horse races.
As Christensen explained, “We still have a cattle property at Corfield and we run four trucks, three Kenworths and a Mack. I have had the business for 16 years.”
The community-minded small fleet owner sponsors the Corfield Cup each year, after which visitors and locals gather at the pub.
“At the moment the population of Corfield is three but that will reduce to two soon,” Christensen said.
Some years ago I did a story about Corfield having a population of seven but the town managed to snare eight liquor licenses for once-off events such as an annual tennis tournament.
When I spoke to Christensen he was in Hughenden and said it was raining and more was expected – good news for graziers considering the number of droughts that have hurt the community.
Even the huge big red kangaroos which are in large numbers in the area also benefit from any decent rain, though that’s not always good news for drivers.
The highway between Hughenden and Winton is notorious for roos and a collision with one can cause damage, even to trucks. Not to mention the mess it leaves on the vehicle.
One driver spoke of stopping in Winton after hitting a roo, with hungry local dogs eating the remains that were stuck to the front of the truck.
Often roos end up as dead roadkill beside the highway and are eaten by scavenger. What’s left is picked up by council workers.
“With some green grass after the rain the roos should have lots of food,” he said.
Regarding Covid-19, Christensen said it had little negative effect.
“I have never been so busy and so are other people. In the off cattle season we carry lots of stocklick and other freight,” he said.
Christensen said that Butcher was a loyal and reliable driver who was an asset to the company.
“Vince likes doing the long trips which is good for us,” Christensen said.
Butcher said he doesn’t follow any particular NRL team, however, always barracked for Queensland in the State of Origin.